When is Deadly Force Justified in Texas?

Texas has a reputation for empowering its citizens to use self-defense if they feel threatened, and for good reason — the state has both “castle doctrine” and “stand your ground” laws. In the simplest terms, Texans have the right to use deadly force against someone else when that person is using unlawful deadly force against you. Using deadly force must be immediately necessary and reasonable for it to be justified.

Additionally, you are generally permitted to use deadly force against someone if you believe it is needed to prevent someone from imminently committing: 

  • Aggravated kidnapping
  • Murder
  • Sexual assault,
  • Aggravated sexual assault
  • Robbery
  • Aggravated robbery

Texas’ Castle Doctrine Laws

Texas law permits its citizens, in certain circumstances, to use deadly force in their habitations against a trespasser. This legal concept, commonly referred to as “castle doctrine,” stems from the belief that residents have the right to feel safe in their own homes. More granularly, state law allows Texans to use deadly force if someone:

  • Unlawfully and forcibly enters or attempts to enter your habitation, vehicle, or workplace; OR
  • Attempts to forcibly remove you from your habitation, vehicle, or workplace

Again, invoking the state’s castle doctrine is applicable only when an otherwise reasonable and prudent person believes that deadly force is necessary. You won’t be successful if you provoked an argument or disagreement that led to your using deadly force; additionally, you may not invoke Texas’ castle doctrine if you were engaging in criminal activity. 

Using self-defense is an affirmative defense, meaning you may use it in court as a way of asserting that you should not be charged with murder, manslaughter, or other crimes. This can be used before or during your trial. The burden of proof is on defendants to prove that Texas laws on self-defense justified his or her use of force — deadly or not. 

A timely note on the state’s castle doctrine: a bill to amend the existing law was recently introduced by a Texas state representative. If passed, the bill would require property owners to attempt to retreat to their habitation before using deadly force to protect themselves or their property. In other words, Texans would have a legal obligation to at least try to retreat to their habitations before using deadly force outside of their home. 

We Will Defend You

The Law Offices of Charles A. Banker, III understands and appreciates the rights of Texans to protect themselves, their family, and their property. No matter what you’ve been charged with, we will fight aggressively for your rights and provide a premium defense in court. Reach out to our team today to set up a free consultation. 


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The Law Offices of Charles A. Banker, III

Our firm’s founder, Charles A. Banker III, has been a solo criminal defense practitioner with offices in Houston and McAllen, TX for over 30 years. He understands what it means to work independently in today’s hyperconnected world, but he also knows that sometimes you need to lean on others.

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